Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Chocolate Macadamia Nut Muffins

by Darla

I made some muffins the other day. They were delicious and easy and made me happy.

But seriously, how cute is that pan they’re in?

I know you guys come here for food, but I’m currently as smitten with my new pan as I am with my new muffin recipe.

So, before I share this new, yummy recipe with you, I have a little tutorial on restoring/seasoning cast iron. Because that’s what my new pan is; cast iron (don’t worry, I talk about the fantastic muffins, and share the recipe below, as always :) ).

If you follow my facebook page, then you know I went prop shopping last week, and here’s some of my loot.

The muffin pan at the bottom is cast iron, and it’s rusty. I loved it when I saw it, mostly for it’s size, but also because I don’t have a cast iron muffin pan, and it was a great price.

It doesn’t look too bad in the photo above, but it was actually pretty rusty.

You can see here just how orange the pan was when I bought it. I knew I could salvage it, though.

If you find a great cast iron piece somewhere, but it has rust on it, don’t worry; chances are, it’s in better shape than you think.

When you go looking for vintage or used cast iron, the most important thing to look out for is pitting or chunks missing from the surface. Cast iron is very slightly rough anyway, but if there are any deeper holes or chunks, then I recommend skipping it. When rust gets down into these, it’s extremely difficult to repair, and there’s always the chance that it will return. If the hole or pit is on the exterior of the piece, rather than the cooking/baking area, then you might still consider getting it. Since it isn’t in a place where food can get into it, then it might be okay. Just use your own discretion.

My muffin pan looks to just have surface rust. Even the darker areas are just spots…no holes or pitting. The very edges of the pan do have a little bit of pitting and wear, but I’m okay with that, because I like the look that it adds. Plus, they’re all of a type that I can fit wire or steel wool into.

*Once your pan is clean of rust and seasoned, don’t use anything so extreme as steel wool on it again, unless you have to, or it will strip the seasoning. Obviously, you can re-season it again, but better to avoid it, if you can.

To remove rust from your cast iron, wash the piece thoroughly, removing any dust or dirt. Cast iron needs to be very clean before seasoning it.

Next, use a wire brush, steel wool, or a Dremel with a wire brush attachment to sand the rust away. Wear safety goggles, gloves, and a mask. I know most of you won’t, or won’t want to, do this, but I don’t feel comfortable skipping the advice. I did get a wire to the face while I was working, so it’s not for nothing that I recommend the precautions.

Also, this may seem like common sense, but apparently some people should be warmed, **don’t blow on any of this while you’re sanding; you can get the fine metal shavings in your eyes.**

You can see in this photo what the metal looks like after being scoured with steel wool on one half. I did all of the first half of the pan by hand, while I did the remaining half with a Dremel. I wanted you guys to see that it isn’t tough to do this by hand at all. In fact, it took the same amount of time to sand one half by hand as it took to do the other half with the Dremel. The only difference was that it was easier with the Dremel (less tiring).

Once the pan is completely free of rust, clean it thoroughly to remove any debris or metal shavings. Remember, food will be going in this, so it needs to be very clean.

After the pan is clean, place it in a preheated oven (about 200 degrees) for 20 minutes or so. This is to make sure that the pan is absolutely dry. You don’t want to season the pan with any moisture in it. You can also dry it on a burner on the stove top, if you prefer. Stovetop works great for skillets and Dutch ovens, but pans like mine will do better in the oven.

Remove the pan from the oven and allow it to cool completely. Once cooled, coat the pan with some form of fat – shortening, canola oil, vegetable oil – whatever you prefer. I use canola oil. Some people don’t use oils because they claim it will leave the pan sticky. We’ve only ever used canola oil on ours and we’ve never had gummy or sticky issues.

You just want a nice, thin coating of fat, not pools of oil or anything. You’re going to heat the pan again, and excess oil may smoke, burn, or turn gummy on the pan. I usually just apply the oil with a well saturated piece of towel (you can use paper towel, too, but for the first seasoning, I find that it leaves too much lint behind).

When the pan is completely coated, place it in a 350 degree oven for 45 minutes. The pan may smoke slightly and have an unpleasant metallic smell, but this is normal.

Allow the pan to cool, then add another thin layer of oil to it and return to the oven (still at 350 degrees). Bake for another 45 minutes.

If your pan feels sticky or gummy, then it needs to continue baking.

In the end, your piece should look like this. There’s no more orange rust or spotting, the metal is deep gray to black, and slightly shiny from the oil. You can repeat the oiling/baking steps, if desired, but I’ve found that once through the process is usually sufficient. Now you’ve locked in the oil, helping to preserve the metal, as well as creating a nonstick surface.

Since my pan was so rusty, I chose to season the exterior in this first go-round, but I won’t continue to season it like I will the interior. I wanted to prevent any rust from returning, though, so it got the same treatment this time.

Some tips for future uses:

Always clean cast iron immediately after using it. If there is tough-to-remove food or stains, use a little kosher salt and water to scrub it off.

Don’t use soap to wash out your cast iron. Simply rinse it thoroughly with hot water, using a scrub brush or sponge, if necessary, then allow it to dry completely. We prefer to dry our cast iron over heat from the stove, but you can allow it to air dry, if you like.

Once the piece is completely dry, coat it with a fresh thin layer of oil and store in a dry place.

Now, you can totally start cooking and baking in your new (old) cast iron. :)

I decided to start with muffins…cause I like them. And cause it’s a muffin pan, so, you know…it makes sense.

These muffins are super easy, and they only take about 10 minutes to mix up and 20 minutes to make, so you can have a tasty breakfast in about 45 minutes. Yay!

All you need is all-purpose flour, sugar, semi-sweet chocolate chips (or milk, or white, or whatever you prefer), macadamia nuts (chopped roughly), sour cream, salt, baking powder, an egg, and unsalted butter (melted).

These are easy to mix up, and pretty basic, so I took a little extra time to cut some parchment squares to line my muffin pan with. I know, I know…I just went to all that trouble to clean and season my pan, and I’m going to use liners anyway? Well, I like how these look, so yes, I am.

I’ve never used parchment in place of muffin liners, because I always thought it looked like a pain int he neck to do, but I may never use regular muffin liners again. Really.

First of all, these are easy peasy. Just cut squares of parchment (5-inches square for standard muffins) and press them into the cups. Seriously, that’s it. In my cast iron pan, the paper stayed put really well, but you may need to give a regular muffin pan a light coating of non stick cooking spray to help the paper stick in place a bit.

Now just fill the liners (about 2 1/2 tablespoons per cup) and bake.

My pan actually makes sort of mini muffins, which I love, so i had to cut four inch squares of parchment instead, but they still worked beautifully.

Why have I decided that I always want to use parchment instead of regular paper liners? Look at easily and perfectly they pull away from the muffins. That right there makes it completely worth it to cut out all the squares. I hate when my muffins stick to the pan, or the paper liners, but with parchment, it just doesn’t happen.

As for the muffins, holy yum. They’re wonderful; sweet and fluffy, but with the perfect amount of chocolate and macadamia nuts. I love the dark flavor of the chocolate with the sweet muffin, and the nuts add the best texture. I’ve alway loved chocolate covered macadamia nuts, but now I think I’ll just have the chocolate and nuts in muffins instead; they are so delicious.

Plus, they’re crazy quick and easy, there’s no excuse not to make them. Enjoy!

Chocolate Macadamia Nut Muffins [Printable Version]
Makes about 12 standard muffins

Ingredients

2 cups (254 grams) all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt (if you can only find salted Macadamia nuts, omit the salt)
1 egg
1 cup (200 grams) sugar
1/4 cup (1/2 stick or 57 grams) unsalte butter, melted
1 1/4 cups sour cream
1 cup (180 grams) semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup (115 grams) macadamia nuts (preferably unsalted), chopped coarsely

mini chocolate chips for sprinkling on top after baking (optional)

Preheat the oven 350 degrees. Grease a muffin pan (or line with muffin liners); set aside.

Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl; set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk the egg until combined, about 20 seconds. Add the sugar and whisk until the mixture is thick and thoroughly combined. Slowly whisk the butter into the mixture until combined. Add half the sour cream, whisking until just combined, repeat with the remaining sour cream.

Add the chocolate chips and macadamia nuts to the flour Mixture and toss to coat.

Add the flour to the sour cream mixture and fold with a spatula until combined and the chips and nuts are evenly distributed, but do not over mix (it’s ok if there are some lumps left).

Evenly divide the batter in between the cups of the muffin pan (about 2 1/2 tablespoons of batter per cup). Bake for 20-23 minutes, or until very light golden brown in color, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer the muffins to a wire cooling rack and allow to cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.

Recipe by Darla

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{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Cookbook Queen January 17, 2012 at 10:41 am

I am so excited about my new found cast iron knowledge!! I have passed up so many great finds because I didn’t know how to make it pretty again.

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2 Lior January 17, 2012 at 11:32 am

yuuuummmmiii…..
love chocolate, love macadamia nuts…..
going to try it!
thanks :)

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3 sue @ Cakeballs, cookies and more January 17, 2012 at 11:48 am

Great advice, and the muffins look to die for!

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4 Choc Chip Uru January 17, 2012 at 12:06 pm

Your muffins look so moist and perfect – one of the best muffin recipes by the looks of it (though I have stopped being surprised now by your delicious recipes :D)

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5 Danielle January 17, 2012 at 12:35 pm

If you know someone with the tools, sandblasting is so much easier (and cool to watch!). I like the dremel idea. I always gave them to my dad for sandblasting, but now that I don’t live nearby was not looking forward to scouring by hand. Now I just need a dremel… I love my cast iron and pretty much only cook in it. Have you seen the little corn cob pans? I just love them.

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6 Dana @ Cooking at Cafe D January 17, 2012 at 12:46 pm

Oooh, those look amazing.
And, I love cast iron. There’s just something so simple about it.
And, it makes tasty food! (We just leave our skillet out on the stove – so handy.)

I haven’t baked with it yet.
Thanks for showing us!
~

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7 Caroline @ chocolate and carrots January 17, 2012 at 2:24 pm

Yum! The added chocolate chips on top just make this muffin look irresistible! I’ve been on a muffin kick lately. These will need to be made. :-D

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8 Tali Simon @ More Quiche, Please January 17, 2012 at 3:12 pm

Thanks for the clear how-to on the cast iron! And wow, do I love those parchment liners. It’s functional, for sure, but it also really adds to the presentation. So glad I stopped by today and saw this.

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9 beti January 17, 2012 at 4:35 pm

they look really beautiful and delicious!!! I love macadamia and chocolate chip muffins I will definetly be making them soon

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10 Mel January 17, 2012 at 6:30 pm

A treasure you have found!

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11 KariAnnM January 17, 2012 at 7:32 pm

I have passed up so many used cast iron pans because I didn’t know how to clean them up. And parchment paper for muffin liners…why do I never think of such simple things!!
Thank you for the tips!

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12 leslie January 18, 2012 at 6:51 am

SUCH pretty photos..even of RUST! :)
Love the muffins!

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13 Stephanie January 18, 2012 at 12:55 pm

Thanks so much for the info on how to season cast iron. I’ve been thinking about buying a cast iron frying pan but had no clue what went into seasoning and maintaining it. This looks perfectly do-able

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14 Krissy {Krissy's Creations} January 18, 2012 at 4:47 pm

I LOVE that pan – so so so jealous! I need to find myself a cast iron muffin pan :). And such adorable and delicious looking cupcakes!

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15 Emily ~So Domesticated~ January 18, 2012 at 5:49 pm

Those muffins look extraordinary! Love the advice on the cast iron… thanks!

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16 Becca- Cookie Jar Treats January 18, 2012 at 9:41 pm

Oh my goodness! These look so delicious and cute and perfect and I love the little melted chocolate chips and this is just the perfect little muffin *takes deep breath* Wow that was a terrile run-on sentence, I sure hope my lit teachers don’t see this post, haha!

One last “and”: I adore your new muffin tin! I see so many vintage and cool looking props and plates in people’s pictures and I always wonder where they get them. When I’m driving, if I see a garage sale sign that’s near where I’m going, I try to drive past to see if there’s anything interesting, but I never find anything. You got lucky with this pan; I want it :P

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17 Paula January 22, 2012 at 2:33 am

What a work!!! And I love all type of cast iron pieces for kitchen!

But, let’s talk about the muffins… I have to cook them!! I love so much macadamia nuts!! And, I have to add… I love how fast you can make some muffins!! It’s fast and very clean!

In my case, I will use white chocolate, because it’s my favourite to use with macadamia nuts.

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18 Richelle February 7, 2012 at 6:34 pm

Those look wonderful. I was in Hawaii late last year and I ate my fair share of mac nuts. I can’t wait to try this out. I am especially in love with your parchment paper instead of muffin liners trick. I always hate it when you are filling cupcakes or whatever, and you smudge some of the batter on the muffin tin! Now it’s a non-issue. Thanks for sharing!

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19 Germana March 5, 2012 at 3:46 pm

Hi Darla, I tried your muffins today and they are delicious! Very rich, moist, but still with a real muffin texture. Thanks for this wonderful receipt! I think I will try soon some variations…

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